Disclaimer: I own none of the characters involved, Lie to Me belongs to Fox, etc, etc. No monetary gain is being made by this story.
In this part of the story I am the one who Dies
I do not love you except because I love you;
"I just don't get it."
The ice cubes in his glass clink against each other; the sound is light and merry and completely at odds with the oppressive air in the room. The oxygen molecules are tense, thick and swollen and fraught with meaning. It weighs the air down, until it is pulling at her and she can no longer use her anger as a cane to prop her up. She sinks onto the sofa and stares at the glass in his hand.
(not at him, not at his face, never, ever at his all seeing eyes)
The ice cubes are melting, bleeding clear ribbons that swirl through the amber liquid, swaying and dancing as he lifts and lowers the glass in the too-heavy-to-stand-in silence. The lack of sound, other than the too-merry sound of his ice, weighs on her, heavier and heavier until she feels compelled to throw it off, like a blanket that is suffocating her.
"What don't you get, Cal?"
She sounds tired. She is tired. Tired of holding everything back from him; tired of watching from the sidelines as he repeatedly plunges himself headlong into these situations. He needs to indulge the darkness, every so often-
(more often than not)
- in order for him to embrace the light. Except he never does embrace it. He just sort of sweeps that darkness around, until it clouds the air and settles on everything in its vicinity, like a fine dust. She is tired of their holding pattern. She is tired of fighting him, and toying with the sublime idea of just not doing it anymore.
(she's less terrible at lying than he originally thought. she's an expert at lying to herself)
She likes to pretend she can do that, sometimes. That there is an actual choice anymore. She could just let him go. Not object. Not fight. Not watch. But doing any of those things is akin to standing on the side of a pool and watching someone drown. It would feel wrong to do nothing. It would feel wrong to do nothing, because it's him.
"Why – why do you do this Foster? I-"
His words pause, and his glass wavers, and those ribbons are bleeding and bleeding through the alcohol. It's a struggle, she knows. A struggle to push the words out through this heavy air – how can they even breathe?
"I'm a mess, right. I'm – I don't – and you. You're always here. Afterward. Why?"
She opened her mouth to respond, but only silence tumbles out. She's strong – stronger than anyone gives her credit for – but she's not strong enough to put the force behind these words that need to be said.
(because i love you)
Her mouth opens, and closes, and then opens again. In the end, silence reigns, and this air is too thick for simple words with no sharp edges to cut through. Her head shakes silently and she opts for easier, lighter words that can rise above them.
"I don't know."
She can feel his gaze on her. It's not heavy, not like the atmosphere that is compressed into the room around them. It's white hot, electric and like an arcing shock that dances along her skin. She is not grounded enough, and she dares not meet his eyes because the voltage might kill her.
She nods, because it's the truth. And somehow –
(don't ask her how because physics and the like were never ever her strong suit)
- she finds the strength to lock her knees and stand, still avoiding his form, slouched in the armchair that's kitty corner to the sofa.
"Congratulations. Still not gonna tell you why, though."
She's drawn all kinds of lines between them. Had to, because it's a survival tool when it comes to Cal Lightman. Lines in the sand to say what they can and can't see.
(he's like the tide, constantly erasing that one and mocking her for thinking she can maintain it every time she drags the stick through the wet sand)
Lines etched in glass to say what they can and can't share.
(she doesn't share because he's never shared; it's a child's line, she won't give him anything of her when he holds so tightly onto everything that's him)
Lines squeaked in indelible marker, thick and black, to say what she can and can't feel.
(her heart seems amused by the thought, and just bleeds over those lines anyway, slow, thick and clotted with repression)
But never has she challenged him. Never has she spray painted a bright red line right in front of him, daring him not to cross.
"I don't deserve it, you know."
His glass is empty, hollowed out shells of ice drowning in a pool of their own blood, and it thuds when he places it on the table and stands, slinking into her personal space and peering at her until she can't avoid his eyes any longer.
She wonders what he sees, when he looks at her. She doubts it's anywhere near what she sees when she looks at him.
"I know. But you get it anyway."
(because i can't not love you)
I go from loving to not loving you,
She'll kill him. She will. She's said it (thought it, felt it) a million times before, but she means it this time.
He just can't mind his own god damned business.
She could strip naked and portray their line in a tribal interpretive dance, and she's pretty sure he still wouldn't get it. She respects him, every time he gives her that look and refuses to answer her questions about his state of mind. She respects the damn line they drew, never steps over it, always backs down.
Recedes before his stonewall gaze, recedes in the face of his impassivity and unreadability. She recedes, because she knows that there were reasons they (he) put the line in place.
There were things he'll never let anyone see.
But when it comes to her, her life, her privacy – he pretends that he drew that line in invisible ink and strides right over it while peering at her like she's a shrew for not telling him anything in the first place.
When she pushes the lines, she's nagging, mothering him.
When he tramples over it without any subtlety whatsoever, he's protecting her.
It's a bit of a double standard. And she hates it. She hates it. She hates hi-
Not hates. Not really. She just... can't love him right now. Can't forgive him just this second, for ignoring the line, following Dave, risking so much more than he knew because he just – just can't respect the line that he created in the first place.
The anger ebbs and flows, swirls around her under the fluorescent hospital lights as he watches her, asking if she'll be alright.
She wants to hate him. To hurt him and ignore all the rules like he loves to do so often - it makes her vision tunnel as the black closes in on the edges. She wants to.
But when does she ever get what she wants?
From waiting to not waiting for you
He thought she was moving too fast.
He's not the easiest read, but she can read him sometimes. Which is to say, whenever he lets her. But when she says the word 'love' he gets this look in his eye, and she knows that he thinks she's lying. And she sees the pity.
According to Cal Lightman, lying to others is the norm, but lying to yourself? That's just sad.
And maybe she is lying, just a little bit. Maybe after Alec (and Cal, and Cal, and Cal, and Cal) maybe she needs to lie to herself a little bit. Maybe she needs Dave to be something bigger than he actually is –
(needs him to be something bigger than Cal is, like that's even possible)
- needs him to be something she can hold onto, so she can pull herself up and over Cal Lightman.
Even as she thinks that, she knows it's not possible. Even as she lays tangled in Dave's sheets later that night, she knows. She knows the truth, but she doesn't need to look at it. She doesn't need to acknowledge it and she can pretend for a little while longer.
She can lie back in another man's bed, and pray that he's (it's) enough to just let her pretend for a little while longer.
She pretended for so long with Alec. So long that by the end, who even knew what was real anymore?
She'd thought for a moment – after her divorce - that maybe the pretending could be over now. For half of a crazy, insane, minute she forgot that it was more than just Alec that kept her pretending. It was fear; raw, ugly and necessary. It was Cal himself, and his blatant disregard for everything she worked for. They worked for.
She was done waiting. Done watching. Done wringing her heart out.
She just needed someone to pretend with. And Dave seemed like a good idea at the time. Or at the very least a fun idea.
She got to have fun too, right?
My heart moves from cold to fire.
She stands there, next to him and watches Clara, and she knows.
Knows that he slept with a person of interest in their case (again), knows that sometimes he just cannot help himself (or her apparently) and she smiles, but inside she can feel a cold grip, like a fist of ice lodged in her chest.
She has no right to judge.
She has no right to judge.
And he smiles, like a small boy with his hand in the cookie jar, and she feels the ache of the cold recede a little bit, because how can she not? And – and -
It's amazing sometimes, how well he can play her. How quickly he can stare at her a little too hard, step a little too close, brush against her shoulder and press his body into the line of hers and she just... lets him.
She lets him because she likes it. Likes the warmth and the thrill, like a moth to a flame, she loves brushing against him just enough that her wings nearly get singed.
An elbow to his ribs and a step away and she's escaping to safety. Because with him, nearly is close enough.
It's always moments like those that she wonders – falters in her seven (nearly eight) year long resolve and just wonders – maybe they could, maybe they might be able, just... maybe.
The possibilities always hang, like a haze of heat on the horizon, and she could almost reach out and touch it, feel it, watch the waves shimmer around her hand and alter her perception of everything around her.
Usually when she reaches that horizon though, all she's left with is a severe case of dehydration and a mirage that's shattered around her.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
It felt like a precipice.
Like a ledge she had clung to that she could finally let go of, relax muscles that had long seized up. She wasn't a terrible liar. She was better than he knew, but he knew that now.
(it's hard to question a line when you need it to be there, to stop him from seeing every truth you've ever hidden; there's more than he thinks, even now)
He forgives her, because there is no other option. Yes, she lied. Yes, for years. But the longer you tell a lie, the easier it becomes. After the initial, oh my god he'll see, he'll see, he'll see – there's less fear and more confidence.
He didn't see.
Not even in the beginning, when he didn't even know her and would have been looking. Because that's what he does. He looks.
So his arms wrapped around her, his body telling her it was okay –
it felt like falling and landing all at the same time. Heart pounding, nauseating and safe. How could she even feel those things simultaneously?
It felt like running a seven year long marathon, her whole body shaking because she knew she was finished. She knew he could feel the tremors, and she thought that maybe she could finally let go now.
"Only you, Foster, would save a man you've never even met."
The words are whispered, a gentle puff of air across her ear and she cries, because she had met him. In her head – she'd read every book he'd ever written, scoured his file when it was given to her. She knew more about him than he thought. Maybe he suspected – sometimes, but she knew he liked to think there were parts of him she just didn't need to know. Darkness that he liked to keep hidden from her light.
But her light was never that bright to begin with. You live in so much dark, even the weakest beam can hurt your eyes, and he was just light sensitive at the time. Maybe he still was.
She knew. Knew every little thing, read every little report with their twisted euphemisms – pretty words like whitewash for ugly actions. She'd read that file, read his history – his mother, MI-6, his science. And she'd felt the pull even then, even before she met him, she'd known.
She wanted to open her mouth, and say the words (not any man I've never met).
But he needed her light, needed her to stay as bright as he imagined her to be.
It was the only thing dispelling the darkness.
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you,
Ben is a gentleman.
He hovers next to her in the anonymous bar she's stumbled into, fresh off of the strip. She takes a shot and wonders if Cal won.
Does it matter?
"You know it was the bonus right?" Ben is sitting next to her, concern all over his face. "Not the fee."
She laughs, and it sounds as bitter as it feels; sharp and jagged and tearing at her throat.
"It's not about the money."
And it's not. It's not about the money. Well, it is; they could damn well use that money, and Cal knows that. But he pushed more than just chips on that table. He pushed trust and their friendship and her heart onto that table with it.
She hates Vegas.
The first time, it wasn't like this.
The first time, she hadn't known how a town could twist him and warp him until he was unrecognizable to her. The first time, it had all hurt so much more.
This is nothing. This is an old wound that aches when it rains, dull and not as razor sharp.
"What is it about then?"
To his credit Ben has not once suggested that they really go get something to eat, that she should go back to her room, that she should put down the shot glass. He's asking painful questions, blundering around and groping blindly for the truth in a manner that is only going to end up hurting someone.
Only going to end up hurting her but it's like a paper cut compared to Cal's gunshot wound.
"It's about hate."
He is her best friend, he is the man she loves, he is her weak spot, her blindness, the only one she can feel this strongly about. Her ex-husband pushed her away, snorted drugs until his nose bled, lied to her constantly and screwed other women, but none of that hurt as much as one bet on a roulette table.
"Is it because of Poppy?"
She snorts and waves her hand for another shot. It wasn't Poppy. Sex is just that – sex, and she knew that better than most. Everyone has needs, everyone has things they would never discuss in broad daylight, and everyone has one kink or another. Poppy was just that. Rebellion and release wrapped up in a pair of fake tits. She was forgettable.
"That's just sex, Ben."
Ben stares at her in disbelief and she knows he can't quite put his finger on it. It's frustrating him, and she knows it, but she isn't really in the mood to attempt to explain her relationship with Cal to an outside point of view. She'd need forty-six hours, a powerpoint presentation and about four hundred diagrams. And if she's going to go to all that trouble, she'd like to educate Cal at the same time.
"I don't understand you two."
She smiles, because who does really? It's her relationship and she thinks maybe even she isn't qualified to teach this class. She downs one last shot and stands, surprisingly steady, but she can't feel her legs.
She can't feel anything and the numbness is just as pleasant as she'd hoped.
She presses a hand on the scarred wood of the bar and pauses for just a minute.
She hopes he lost every single cent of that million dollars.
Because the only thing she hates more than Cal in Vegas is Cal leaving Vegas a winner.
and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Emily is so like her father that she can't ever imagine not loving that girl. It's like an extension of him, and her love for him is so blind and all-encompassing.
After the screen goes blank and they're left with nothing but white noise and pounding hearts, she grips Emily's shoulders and pulls her into her arms.
In Cal's study Emily cries, and yells at her, but hugs her when she can't stop the tears from overflowing.
"What if he's-"
She hugs the young girl so tightly that the words can't even escape.
They would know. They would know, and they don't know, so he isn't. Emily's arms are a vice around her ribcage, and she welcomes the pressure, because they both just need this, this moment. It's quiet, and the room smells like him.
"Okay. He's not."
Emily believes her, she knows. Clings to her words like the lifeline that they are intended to be, and the two of them just simply continue to sit, and breathe in tandem.
"He didn't want you to worry. I didn't want you to worry. There's nothing we can do."
And that's the killer, right there. There is nothing she can do but watch. No way she can help him, no way she can do anything – he's half a world away in the middle of a war zone.
"Why did he go?"
There's several different ways to answer that and she doesn't know which one to choose.
Because he had no choice.
Because he needed to save those men.
Because he wanted to.
"I don't know."
Emily pulls back and peers at her in an eerily familiar way. But it's the truth, because even she doesn't know which reason was running through Cal Lightman's mind as he boarded that chopper. Emily sees this, and simply nods before hugging her again. This hug is different though, because this one is for her, not Emily.
"I'm sure it was a good reason."
She's not so sure, but like Emily had moments before, she clings to the girl's words and nods in agreement.
She is sorry for lying. But she's never been able to refuse him a request before, and nothing is any different now. She lies so he doesn't have to. She lies so that he is able to. She just lies. But she is so damn sorry for it all.
It's not forgiveness, and she can hear that in Emily's voice. It sounds like his voice, when he is saying small words filled with longer meanings.
It's not his voice. But she can't see him or hear him right now.
And it's close enough.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
She is a centered person. She is self actualized, and it shows in how she speaks, her tone of voice, how she walks, and how she remains calm at all times.
At almost all times.
But behind a frosted door, staring at an insane man who has a gun - that calm, that center just slips five degrees left and suddenly she is favouring the right and she can't seem to stop crying.
She's buried everything, because she's an excellent digger and the hole always needs to be deeper than what it is. Six, ten, twelve feet under and it still feels like a too-shallow grave for these feelings that just keep rising.
She thought that she was this centered, this steady because she had dug such a deep foundation to build her life around.
She was right, in a way, but she was wrong too. How can she even be qualified to separate the truth from the lies if she can't even find the truth within herself?
But behind that frosted door, she thinks that this insane man has actually shone a light inside her soul, because she can see it there.
If she can see it though, so can he and he is shaking his head and repeating her name in a warning tone. She heeds him because she always does. Even when this is what he's asking for. And afterward, after it's over and he walks away, unwilling to look at what he just saw –
Afterward she wonders if she'll ever right herself again, ever go back to an even footing.
Two glasses of wine, one bath and a thousand paces later, she wraps her arms around him in her doorway and she feels everything shift and click into place. She's realigned, and she finally realizes, she's not centered.
He is her center.
In this part of the story I am the one who
It's all metaphorical of course, but she's standing in an empty condo, waiting for her things to arrive out of storage and she's mulling over the irony of being filled by things.
It's what she's been filled with all along though, pictures on walls that represent something and mean nothing. Sugar and positivity and bad romance novels and they're all just fillers, always have been. Will continue to be.
(fill the space inside)
It could be different now, she supposes. She could die this figurative death and rise from the ashes a different person, with a different life, with her actual heart.
But change of any kind is terrifying, and if he sees her, well, then he might see her.
No one is quite ready for that yet.
She feels lighter, and more hollow. Brittle, but stronger. Happy, but guilty because of that happiness. She is a mass of contradictions.
She breathes deeply, and answers the door when the movers knock. Watches as they carry the boxes over the threshold and begin to fill her up before her very eyes.
Later, unpacking the boxes, she feels like she is unpacking her soul, fragment by fragment, picking it up and examining each piece. It feels cleansing, it feels necessary, it feels a little bit like a eulogy. Once upon a time there was a girl who loved Alec Foster. Once upon a time he loved her back. Once upon a time she had no idea who Cal Lightman was, and she hadn't really been unhappy.
But this little death was all about the truth, and she knew that that girl was better off now than she was then. It feels wrong somehow to compare that girl's love next to this woman's love – they were both in love, just different kinds.
Hours later, she is thoroughly examined, unwrapped and placed gently in the spaces she needs to occupy. She feels better for it, happier for it, and the guilt isn't as strong as it was this morning.
She's not full, but she's not empty either.
She's just waiting for the dust to settle,
(ashes to ashes)
she's just setting aside some room in her soul, because maybe she shouldn't die and be reborn, but she can mourn and re-learn how to live. And it's not like she has anyone in mind to fill that space.
(it's actually already occupied)
the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.